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UChicago Student Wellness Adds Diversity and Inclusion Leadership Position

Meet Dr. Khanh Nghiem

To strengthen and build upon our diversity and inclusion efforts, UChicago Student Wellness created a new position in early 2020: associate director for diversity, inclusion, and outreach. After a national search, we were delighted to announce that Khanh Nghiem, PhD, will assume this important leadership role.  

Dr. Nghiem initially joined the UChicago Student Wellness staff in January 2019 as a staff psychologist and coordinator of multicultural outreach. After this new position was created and a national search was conducted in early 2020, it was clear Dr. Nghiem was ideal for the job.  

In this inaugural role, Dr. Nghiem will develop comprehensive strategies to enhance and support the mental health and wellbeing of underrepresented student populations on campus, including low-income, first-generation, undocumented students; international students; students of color; and LGBTQ students. In addition to providing direct clinical care as a therapist, she will focus on a variety of initiatives that aim to create an inclusive campus climate that focuses on students’ wellbeing. She will also help ensure that UChicago Student Wellness is delivering inclusive care that meets the needs of the student body.  

During her time at UChicago, Dr. Nghiem has developed new programming for DACA/undocumented students, first-generation students, international students, and students of color. This programming includes workshops on imposter syndrome, adjusting to college, managing stress, and diversity in the classroom, as well as support groups for undocumented students and students of color. She is a member of several campus committees and working groups, including the Thrive Collaborative, Odyssey Scholars, and Diversity Administrators, all focused on strengthening partnerships in support of underrepresented groups. 

What is one thing you want students to know about what you do?
Dr. Nghiem: Students can experience stigma, fear, and shame about getting help, talking about struggles, and sharing emotions or issues. These experiences could stem from societal, cultural, and familial influences. One significant aspect of my role is to increase access to and further develop affirming, culturally sensitive, and inclusive health and wellness services. I encourage students to check out UChicago Student Wellness services, including programs that do not require making an appointment, such as our workshops, drop-in sessions, and wellness practices.

Why was the Associate Director for Diversity, Inclusion, and Outreach position created? 
Dr. Nghiem: My position was created through a lot of thoughtful discussion, feedback, and intentionality around prioritizing diversity and inclusion initiatives. It was crucial to have a position where there was a point person who can dedicate time and resources to develop diversity programming, practices, and initiatives.

What are some of your short- and long-term goals in this position?
Dr. Nghiem: One of my short-term goals is to connect with students and campus offices to learn about students’ experiences, perspectives, and needs, particularly students with marginalized identities. I am building relationships with students from different groups and departments, campus offices, and staff.

Regarding long-term goals, I hope that through these relationships and collaborations we can pilot several new diversity programs, resources, and services for our most vulnerable and at-risk students. I plan to develop feedback and communication channels to identify diversity issues, considerations, and needs to continue to expand our diversity trainings and pilot new mentoring programs for our staff. 

What do you find most fulfilling about your work?
Dr. Nghiem: The aspect of my role that I enjoy the most is talking to students, learning about them, and learning from them as well. I am also deeply grateful for and energized by the collaborations and connections with staff, both at UChicago Student Wellness and across campus.

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